Is it OK to eat mushroom stems, or should I cut them off?

by Avi

Shiitake Mushrooms with their stems cut off

Shiitake Mushrooms with their stems cut off


My mom always told me I should cut the stems off mushrooms before cooking them. She said the stems were too woody to digest and that they had no flavor.

Was she right? It doesn’t really make sense to me as everyone seems to eat the top and stem of regular store mushrooms. Take a look at pizza with mushrooms slices on top!

Who’s right?


Everyone is right!

For the most part, it’s fine to eat the stems of mushrooms. Like you say, everyone slices Cremini mushroom. Those are the ones most commonly seen in supermarkets.

Some really delicious mushrooms, like King Oysters, are mostly stem. They have a very small cap. When you slice them, most of what you’re slicing is stem.

Other species, like Lion’s Mane really don’t have a stem.

So... for the most part, your mom was mistaken. It’s fine to eat mushroom stems.

That said, there are one or two mushrooms that are exceptions.

The mushrooms in the photo I added above are one of my culinary favorites… Shiitake mushrooms. And as you can see, I cut all the stems off.

Why? Because like your mom said, they are incredibly woody and fibrous. Mind you, I don’t always throw them out. Depending on the recipe, I’ll soak and boil the stems to make a tasty broth.

Anyway, there’s certainly no danger to eating the stems. If the mushroom is safe to eat, the stem is safe to eat. It’s just that some stems aren’t much fun to eat!

If anyone cooks with mushrooms with woody stems other that Shiitakes, let us know by adding a comment below.

Hope this helps!

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